Ramblers’ president, board totally behind new coach

Darrell Cole
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Henwood said Hepditch being treated unfairly

The president of the Amherst Ramblers is disappointed with criticism the club's new coach is receiving.

The president of the Amherst Ramblers is disappointed with criticiziing the club's new coach Josh Hepditch after a pair of trades last weekend.

AMHERST – Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers’ coach and general manager Josh Hepditch has the complete support of the club’s board of directors as he works to reshape the hockey team.

“We’re behind him 100 per cent. People are hanging him out to dry on social media and he hasn’t even coached a game yet,” team president Jim Henwood said. “We need to give this guy a chance. He has a plan, he spoke to us about, we supported it and we continue to support it.”

Hepditch raised a few eyebrows at the Maritime Junior Hockey League draft last Saturday when he dealt 20-year-old forward Daniel Walsh and defenceman Willie MacDonald to the Pictou County Weeks Crushers in return for draft picks and defenceman Tanner McCabe.

Since then, the coach has been facing a lot of criticism on social media and Henwood doesn’t think it’s fair.

“We traded two good hockey players. Willie MacDonald thanked the coach for giving him a chance to go for a title and I think it’s a good opportunity for Daniel Walsh to win a title. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to be going for a title this year, but at the same time we stand a really good chance of hosting the Fred Page Cup next year. We want to ice the most competitive team we can and Josh is working on that and he has our support.”

Henwood said Amherst has Stu Rath’s support and he’s been approached by the owner of the Bridgewater franchise offering his support for Amherst’s bid. The Ramblers lost out to Truro several seasons ago to host the 2013 Fred Page Cup. While he was upset at the time, Henwood understands Truro had an edge because of the new Rath Eastlink Arena.

The team president said he and Hepditch had a good talk before the draft. He said the coach asked him if he wanted him to clean house and he replied that he wants to ice a competitive team.

“Do we expect to have a championship team every year? No, that’s not possible on our budget, but we want to be competitive. That’s the route he’s taking,” Henwood said. “He has three top prospects in British Columbia and he expects two of them to be coming to Amherst. He’s also going to the Hit the Ice Camp in Montreal and he’s hoping to bring players back from there.

“This guy has a plan and he’s a winner. It peaves me off when I see what’s being said in social media by people hiding behind fictitious names. I’m getting tired of it. We brought someone in here who’s very professional and he doesn’t deserve to be treated like this,” Henwood said. “This fellow is going to be coach of the year in this league in the future.”

Henwood said the team is prepared to spend resources at Christmas and/or at the trading deadline to add players to make a playoff run.

“Don’t think for one minute that we’re just going to frig around this season and not worry about making the playoffs. We’re going to build for the Fred Page Cup, but we’re also going to make the playoffs this season,” Henwood said. “We’re going to have a winner in this town and that’s all this fellow has done in his career. He won in Moncton, he won at UNB and he’s been successful in British Columbia. He’s proved to me that we hired the right guy by making the moves he’s made.”

Henwood said he’s disappointed with fans going around the community criticizing the team and jeopardizing sponsorships and advertising the club depends.

“If they’re really Amherst fans they wouldn’t be doing that, they’d give us a chance,” Henwood added. “They’re jeopardizing the future of the hockey club by saying what they’re saying. We’re at the time of year that we’re meeting with our advertisers and sponsors and we need people to be behind us. We’re going to ice a competitive team this year.”


Twitter: @ADNdarrell


Organizations: CIBC Wood Gundy, Maritime Junior Hockey League

Geographic location: AMHERST, Pictou County, British Columbia Montreal Moncton

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Recent comments

  • Rick Buchanan..Rambler Alumni
    June 21, 2014 - 20:41

    AttaBoy Jim: Watched Josh lots playing in Moncton. Cudos to the Executive for hiring him as I expect he will show the same highly competitive spirit he had as a player then passing it onto the boys...a great staff with Tim and Jamie on the bench and Executive to back them up. Once the competition is sized up and necessary changes made, true fans will jump on board. I suspect many Rambler critics have never laced on a pair of skates nor been a part of any team business. Always a Rambler supporter thru thick and thin.

  • Zero
    June 21, 2014 - 11:04

    Great job Mr. President - ummm - we can't even get sponsors or sell advertising! Great job??? Hardly!!

  • Lloyd MacKenzie
    June 21, 2014 - 04:20

    If it is true that Mr. Crocker is again associated with the Ramblers it will be the beginning of the end of a storied franchise.

  • Good on You
    June 20, 2014 - 15:18

    Well done Mr President and Executive. This is the most leadership shown at the Rambler executive level in many, many years. You can tell the real hockey people from the "nay-sayers" by simply reading the comments! Its great to have a plan and vision in place once again..... Dont worry about the critics, just keep doing the right things and we will watch this team do great things (Finally!)

  • audrey butterfield
    June 20, 2014 - 10:11

    you need to give josh a chance. he is a very good coach.

  • Dan
    June 20, 2014 - 05:04

    If in your estimation a "real Amherst fan" should go around Amherst - keep their mouth shut, play stupid and prasie the executives for every thing they have done over the last month or so then I believe it is time someone told you- Amherst has a lot less "real fans" than you would expect. Please Mr. Henwood, your trying to blame fans for the loss of sponsorship? Anyone only need to look back on past articles to see that when Bottomley was realeased the support was jeorardized at that time- it was reported in the Amherst News. The real truth seems to be that you commited your own susicide as far as future fan support and sponsorship goes when it became public knowledge that Mr. Crocker was again associated with the team. Three Rambler ariticles in less than two weeks - all having a different spin- which one is the "real fan" to believe.

  • Shawanoswe Tooley
    June 19, 2014 - 18:41

    This fan is giving his full support behind the new coach! While everybody is still worried about past decisions made! I am excited for the new direction the club has taken. I am already excited for the 2014-15 season. I love hockey and love watching teams compete. Also, I enjoy watching players get better as they progress in hockey. I have multiple reasons why I am excited, but it's hard typing on this small phone! Sports teaches you to not dwell on the past. It does teach you to quickly think about what happened, learn from it and then move on! I will put a note in my calendar for June 2017, to remind to reflect back and see if the Ramblers organization made the correct decision! Go Rams!

  • jordan hunter
    June 19, 2014 - 17:45

    I put my name out there because im not afraid to make a response to all of the 'fans' the best hockey club in the league has. Every four years teams across the league have to make a rebuild. To build for the future. Our town has a chance to host the best tournament which can be spoken of in the league in 2016 and we'll know in fall if the dream will be become a reality. We have the fans in this community for this sport, as well as this hockey club. Our community is built around the Amherst Ramblers and the Amherst Ramblers is built around the community. They need eachother. Give Josh a chance. Hes a great guy and will be one of the best coaches Amherst has ever seen. If your a true fan, ill see you at the home opener. -Jordan (dedicated fan)

  • ramfan
    June 19, 2014 - 17:16

    So now the fans are being blamed for losing sponsors,don't think so this started at the end of the season,not fair to blame the fans.

  • Vince Kennie
    June 19, 2014 - 16:30

    Your statement is well thought out Mr President and I totally agree, let's give this new coach all the support that he needs and help bring a competitive team to the Jungle.

  • Jack on the Rocks
    June 19, 2014 - 14:30

    The flood gates have been opened....more unwanted comments on then way.......